The Digitization of Maps and Navigation

While we are all accustomed to navigating through digital navigation, it is important to remember that it was not too long ago that we still used paper maps to get around. With the power of computing & crowdsourcing, digital navigation is now a convenient tool that has been improving and advancing continuously.

Digital Footprint

The advent of mobile devices and their ability to provide location services introduce a whole new realm of capabilities. Location services contribute to your digital footprint by providing where you are and/or where you have been. These location services can be used for many different services such as location specific ads, location specific notifications, and even controlling what wild Pokemon you are coming across while playing Pokemon GO.

For example, Apple's iOS includes a frequent locations feature, which tracks where you are and at what time. There are many uses for this information, including a feature that gives you real time travel information in your notification center.

Network Externalities

With the benefits that location services can bring, network externalities describe how the value of a product to one user depends on how many other users there are. The popular navigation app Waze is a great example of crowdsourcing to enhance an application's experience and effectiveness.

Waze, which has been acquired by Google, has integrated crowdsourcing to navigation, where users can report traffic incidents. The effectiveness of Waze's navigation depends on the users' reports - the more people using it and making/verifying these reports, the better your dynamically provided route will be.

Algorithmification: Computers Enhance Digital Maps

Before GPS devices, we had to consult paper maps and plan our route. Now, we use digital navigation to do all this for us. With paper maps, there was no way to dynamically change our route based on the traffic that we are seeing as we are going along our route, we had to plan our routes and maybe add some padding to accommodate traffic. 

With digital navigation, sophisticated algorithms dynamically provide your best route depending on traffic, road closures, etc. as you are traveling along your route. This provides the best possible route to get you from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time.

Example: Computing, through complex algorithms and machine learning, allows you to obtain navigation information through Google Maps based on a specific time of day. This is very useful in planning ahead, and this capability is provided by the power of computers.

Technology, being standardized solutions to address typical needs, seek to improve our lives, or at least make things more convenient. 

The concept of location services and our digital footprints can improve our digital experience. Network externalities describe how the improvement of the digital experience depends on how many people utilize these digital capabilities. Computers, along with the combination of the crowdsourced info, then take these capabilities to the next level, greatly improving the digital experience.

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Digitization of Maps

by atyi


Public - 7/14/16, 1:04 AM